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Dealership Service (Medium rant...)

I note this comment:

> True.  In my case, self-wrenching has been forced on me by the total and
> utter lack of skills at the dealerships.  I discussed having my fuel
> injection problem looked at by a local dealership, but the service
> receptionist stopped me halfway through my description of the symptoms
> and said they had _NO_ diagnostic ability other than replace-and-see.

Unfortunately, a combination of factors are forcing this situation on 
dealerships.  We need to realize that:

1)  The members of this group certainly average both a high degree of 
technical aptitude and more smarts than the average service 
technician.  (Not talking the service guys down, but if they had more 
on the ball, they would be buying Audis and taking them to OTHER 
people to have the mechanical work done.  QED. )

2)  We are cognitively well equipped to take on technical 
issues/tests and we don't have to pay ourselves an hourly fee for 
doing so.  Neither do we have anyone looking over our shoulders.  
Mechanics have to justify their time spent, and the dealership wants 
every minute to result in billable work.  They can't take the time!

3)  Auto menufacturers in general struggle with keeping 
mechanics up to date with technology.  Bluntly speaking, the cars
are "smarter" and more technical than the mechanics.  Therefore, they 
can't design test procedures which their mechanics are universlally 
competent to perform...so they don't do them.  They replace whole 

4)  As a result, the words "Test" and  "Repair" are disappearing from 
dealership speech.  Many diagnostics now consist of targeting an 
assembly or unit, and replacing it.  Read the Bentley and you will 
find that most Audi disgnostics are oriented this way - identify the 
offending unit and replace it.  No test given to identify faulty 
components - just replace the unit.

I can't speak to fuel injector tests.  It seems to me that finding a 
problem implies inductive skills requiring a process such as 
finding a cylinder which is not performing, examining the peripheral 
systems, eliminating those which seem unlikely to be responsible, and 
centering on those which remain.  Problem is, this takes TIME.  Time 
= $$$$$$$$.  Customers [a] don't understand their cars anyway, and 
[b] don't want to pay for the time required to figure this stuff out. 
And the penalty for making one mistake - coming to the wrong 
conclusion - is that the customer thinks they've been cheated or the 
mechanic is incompetent.  Neither may be true.

I submit that we on this list would not pay a repair shop for the 
time required to do some of the series of wacky tests we counduct on 
our own cars.

Some sad facts:

It is NOT economically feasible for dealerships to REPAIR most 
assemblies, even such simple things as starters and alternators.  

They install new or used ones because they MUST generate the most 
work in the shortest time.  For example, some "mechanics" don't even 
know HOW to replace brushes in a starter; the dealership prefers them 
to replace the starter and maximize profit while minimizing the risk 
of a parts failure from a partially-done job, and; most owners would 
find a repair of this sort unsuitable.  They want NEW parts, not used 

The fact that we know better doesn't change this, as this 
group is probably in the top 10% in ability to deal with these 
problems.  We're ALSO in the top 10% when it comes to being cheap 
on fixing our own cars.  We do it, but we save every penny when we 

So we're going to have to be content with managing many problems on 
our own, and only going to a dealer when time or lack of facilities 
forces us to do so.  

Anyone wanna step outside and argue with tire irons??  ;-)

Al Powell                        Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843